By. Lori Mercer
Everyone knows a firefighter. It comes up every time I tell someone what my husband does. Oh yeah. Our old neighbor was a firefighter. It’s as if we should know them (and a lot of times we may!) There’s that brief pause that shows their admiration and appreciation for firefighters who are willing to do dangerous things to rescue people in harms way.
I think Frank Viscuso, author of “Step Up and Lead” says it best.
Yes that. Someone’s got this. I feel secure and safe. Thank goodness for the courageous men and women with this spirit willing to give so selflessly.
Amen. God bless. Let’s honor them. What an amazing man / woman.
Except when they’re not.
Wait, what? Yeah I said it. I’m married to one of those noble heroes of our society who’s out saving the day. And then I see what it’s like behind the scenes. Off the set. When they come home tired, beat up, worn out and emotionally scarred from the horrific views of humanity they’ve seen. And often taking it out on their family. Irritable. Zoned out. Collapsed in a chair exhausted and unresponsive. Unable to really give what their family needs.
So as the spouse, I haven’t been sitting at home eating bon bons, getting manicures and shopping online for my next dream vacation. If you’re like any other spouse of a firefighter, you’ve also had quite a shift wrangling the household, likely a job and everything that goes with it. You’re looking forward to that moment you can collapse together and enjoy each other’s company but instead you talk logistics. The schedule. Finances. Who really broke the hinge on the bathroom door and how.
This is a true story. It’s our personal story but it’s also one I hear play out over and over in the firefighting community.
No doubt firefighters are heroic. In their own way, so are their spouses. Give, give, giving to the outside world sometimes until there’s nothing left to give to themselves or each other. It's no wonder marriages suffer.
There are no official divorce rates for the fire service but all you have to do is look around a firehouse and count how many people are divorced and / or remarried. Rough estimates show us its in the 75% range.
Can someone be a hero when their personal life is in such shambles? Or perhaps a better question is this. Can a hero be their best when their personal life is in shambles?
Commitment to the fire service is a given. But what about commitment to the relationships that mean the most?
Your marriage should be the longest most personal, intimate relationship you experience in your lifetime. Why would you give it anything less than your best?
Firefighters spend hours upon hours training to be sure that “Everyone Goes Home”. The thin red line is a symbol that brothers and sisters have gone before you giving everything for the job and is a stark reminder to be strong, be safe, be smart in your heroic rescuing. So you can go home to what matters most - your families.
Because first you are a husband or a wife. A Mom or a Dad. A son or a daughter. These are the most important roles. So why not pour ourselves into being the best at these titles as well?
There are a million tiny forces pulling apart marriages in our world. It takes even more courage than being a firefighter to fight against these forces and keep your marriage strong, intimate and fun.
It starts with the commitment you made on your wedding day. Remember how nervous you felt? It takes courage to step up and say, "this one". This is the one I commit to give my best to for the rest of my life. And even more courage to say, even when they aren’t at their best, I am still committed to be by their side.
Because you know what’s even sexier than being married to a firefighter? Being married to a firefighter who is honorable and committed to their marriage. And who courageously shares with the world that nothing will tear it apart.
One who shouts the praises of their spouse from the rooftops and chooses time together over activities apart.
A spouse who respects their partners career choices and builds them up in ways to be even better.
A spouse who recognizes when career brings harmful influences into their home and works to keep their marriage and home a loving sanctuary.
A husband and wife who can share anything with each other because they are truly best friends and the reason the other can be a hero in their calling.
I challenge you all to have the courage to rise to this level of commitment. Be an inspiration for those around you. It’s not just that everyone goes home. It’s that everyone goes home to the place the fills them up, brings them strength and is a loving safe haven no matter what the seasons bring.
Be a courageous hero for marriage. Wear your emblem proudly. 24/7 Commitment to a full life in all ways - firefighter and spouse.
Lori Mercer, Wife of Firefighter Dan Mercer and Founder of FirefighterWife.com, a community operated by 24/7 Commitment, a 501c3 organization dedicated to honor, strengthen and support marriages and families in the fire service.